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White House Smears Clarke for Doing Their Dirty Work

March 25th, 2004

The latest, and from how the media is handling it, the most damaging attack against Clarke by the White House has to do with a briefing Clarke gave to reporters in 2002. In the briefing, he said:

the Clinton administration had a strategy in place, effectively dating from 1998. And there were a number of issues on the table since 1998. And they remained on the table when that administration went out of office — issues like aiding the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, changing our Pakistan policy — uh, changing our policy toward Uzbekistan. And in January 2001, the incoming Bush administration was briefed on the existing strategy. They were also briefed on these series of issues that had not been decided on in a couple of years.

And the third point is the Bush administration decided then, you know, in late January, to do two things. One, vigorously pursue the existing policy, including all of the lethal covert action findings, which we’ve now made public to some extent.

Those are the important parts that are being pointed out; the administration claims that because Clarke said these words, and they go against what he says today, that means that Clarke is contradicting his former statements and so he is a liar, nyah nyah.

What they don’t mention, and what the press is not doing a good job of pointing out, is that Clarke said these things while representing the Bush administration. In short, they were not his opinions. They were the words the Bush White House wanted him to say, and like any good soldier he went along. Note that the date is August 2002, before Bush invaded Iraq, which is to a great extent the thing that made Clarke upset, so at that point Clarke was still willing to do his job, which, effectively, was to tell things the way Bush wanted them told, or quit.

So the Bush White House is saying that Clarke is untrustworthy because he obeyed them when they told him to paint a distorted picture. That’s quite a thing. “He’s a liar because we told him to say that.”

It should also be noted that the briefing in question is presently available in one location and one location only: Fox News. What a surprise.

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